Dr Peter Steincrohn

In Dr No, M is preparing to meet with James Bond following his recovery from the near-death experience he suffered at the end of From Russia With Love. He is on the phone with Sir James Molony, consulting with him as to whether 007 is fit to return to duty. While Sir James deems it wise to perhaps ease Bond back into duty, M has no intention of coddling his star agent.

M said abruptly, “Ever hear of a man called Steincrohn-Dr Peter Steincrohn?”

“No, who’s he?”

“American doctor. Written a book my Washington people sent over for our library. This man talks about how much punishment the human body can put up with. Gives a list of the bits of the body an average man can do without. Matter of fact, I copied it out for future reference. Care to hear the list?” M dug into his coat pocket and put some letters and scraps of paper on the desk in front of him. With his left hand he selected a piece of paper and unfolded it. He wasn’t put out by the silence on the other end of the line, “Hullo, Sir James! Well, here they are: ‘Gall bladder, spleen, tonsils, appendix, one of his two kidneys, one of his two lungs, two of his four or five quarts of blood, two-fifths of his liver, most of his stomach, four of his twenty-three feet of intestines and half of his brain.’ ” M paused. When the silence continued at the other end, he said, “Any comments, Sir James?”

There was a reluctant grunt at the other end of the telephone. “I wonder he didn’t add an arm and a leg, or all of them. I don’t see quite what you’re trying to prove.”

M gave a curt laugh. “I’m not trying to prove anything, Sir James. It just struck me as an interesting list. All I’m trying to say is that my man seems to have got off pretty lightly compared with that sort of punishment. But,” M relented, “don’t let’s argue about it.”

Dr Peter J. Steincrohn (1899-1986) was a real person, a real Doctor, and a prolific writer, penning almost 30 medical books aimed at the layperson, in addition to being a long-running syndicated newspaper columnist and radio and TV guest. Dr. Steincrohn received his medical degree at University of Maryland Medical School in 1923 and interned at Muhlenberg Hospital, Plainfield N.J. He did Postgraduate work at Massachusetts General and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, then established practice at Hartford, Conn, as an Internist and Cardiologist.

October 20, 1949 Daily Capital Journal from Salem, Oregon
October 20, 1949
Daily Capital Journal from Salem, Oregon

From this clipping, it appears that Dr Steincrohn originally penned the words M later uses in the October 1949 issue of The American Magazine.

Dr Steincrohn was considered something of a “Medical Maverick,” although espousing theories not commonly held by other physicians of his day, he was also ahead of his time in many ways, talking about issues such as heart disease and anxiety. His newspaper column was the longest running of its kind, going for over 30 years.

I had a chance to speak with Dr Steincrohn’s daughter, Maggie Davis, who remembers him as “embracing, caring, beloved,” and that he always had a “twinkle in his eye.” She noted that in her father’s private practice, he had both wealthy and poor patients, and it was important to him to make sure all of them were treated the same. It was his habit to talk to each patient for an hour before beginning any sort of examination.He ended up becoming friends with many of his patients. The Doctor didn’t merely treat his patients by rote, his daughter recalls him saying “Treat the patient, not the disease.” Among his colleagues he was known for his ability to diagnose and to ease pain. Included in his patients was the actress Gene Tierney. Dr Steincrohn was married for 50 years to Patti Chapin who was a singer for CBS Radio in the 1930’s on the Palmolive Hour. She also screen-tested for Hollywood, but chose instead to get married and raise a family.

Davis believes that Dr Steincrohn was aware of the above quote from Dr No.

Here are some of the titles of Dr Steincrohn’s books through the years:

Heart Disease is Curable 1943
Forget Your Age! 1945
How To Stop Killing Yourself 1950
How to Add Years to Your Life 1952
How To Master Your Fears 1952
How to Keep Fit without Exercise 1955
Live Longer And Enjoy It 1956
You Can Increase Your Heart Power 1958
How to Be Lazy, Healthy, and Fit 1968
Don’t Die Before Your Time 1971
How to Cure Your Jogger Mania!: Enjoy Fitness and Good Health without Running – A Doctor’s Warning on the Running Craze.  1980

From the back of one of his books:

Peter J. Steincrohn, M.D. is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. A practicing internist and cardiologist for twenty-five years, Dr Steincrohn is a McNaught Syndicate columnist for over a hundred newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. He has written articles appearing in leaving magazines, including Esquire, Look, Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest.

steincrohn

If you’re interested, here is a beautiful piece written by Maggie Davis about the last years of her parent’s lives.

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PQ Convoys

At the start of the second chapter of Dr No, M is arriving at the office on a cold, raw March 1st (1956) in London. He exits his car, and speaks to his chauffeur:

‘Won’t be needing the car again today, Smith. Take it away and go home. I’ll use the tube this evening. No weather for driving a car. Worse than one of those PQ Convoys.’

This is about as close as M gets to using humor. He is referring to the Arctic convoys of World War II – an operation where Allied ships brought supplies to the Soviet Union.

These convoys often met with severe weather on their trips, as well as German opposition.

"HMS Sheffield frost" by Coote, R G G (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer - This is photograph A 6872 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-01).
“HMS Sheffield frost” by Coote, R G G (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer – This is photograph A 6872 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-01).

The above photograph is from one of those convoy missions and likely shows what M had in mind when making the reference.

Silver Wraith Rolls

In Dr No, M is arriving at his office on the first day of March.

When the old black Silver Wraith rolls with the nondescript number-plate stopped outside the tall building in Regent’s Park and he climbed stiffly out on to the pavement, hail hit him in the face like a whiff of small-shot.

The Silver Wraith was manufactured between 1946 and 1958. It was the first post-war auto from Rolls-Royce. The car featured a 4,257cc overhead-inlet, straight six cylinderside-exhaust engine, and was the first Rolls-Royce to feature hydraulic brakes.

silver-wraith

If you’re interested, this 1954 Silver Wraith is for sale.

(Rolls had manufactured the Rolls-Royce Wraith in 1938-9 – if Fleming was really going “old” it’s possible he was referring to this car.)

 

Mona Reservoir, Jamaica

After Strangways and Mary Trueblood are killed in the opening chapter of Dr. No, their bodies are deposited in a body of water outside Kingston.

As the first flames showed in the upper windows of the bungalow, the hearse moved quietly from the sidewalk and went on its way up towards the Mona Reservoir. There, the weighted coffin would slip down into its fifty-fathom grace and, in just forty-five minutes, the personnel and records of the Caribbean station of the Secret Service would have been utterly destroyed.

The Mona Reservoir is the main water supply for Kingston, located in the neighborhood of Mona, about eight kilometers outside of Kingston.

After many years of development and several setbacks, the Mona Reservoir went into service in 1959.

Mona Reservoir - the final resting place of Commander John Strangways and Mary Trueblood.
Mona Reservoir – the final resting place of Commander John Strangways and Mary Trueblood.
View from the Reservoir looking towards Kingston.
View from the Reservoir looking towards Kingston.

King’s House, Kingston Jamaica

Kings-House

Built in 1907-08, King’s House is the residence of the Governor is Jamaica. As Dr. No opens, Fleming sets the stage for us.

Richmond Road is the ‘best’ road in all Jamaica. It is Jamaica’s Park Avenue, its Kensington Palace Gardens, its Avenue D’Iena. The ‘best’ people live in its big old-fashioned houses, each in an acre or two of beautiful lawn set, too trimly, with the finest trees and flowers from the Botanical Gardens at Hope. The long, straight road is cool and quiet and withdrawn from the hot, vulgar sprawl of Kingston where its residents earn their money, and, on the other side of the T-intersection at its top, lie the grounds of King’s House, where the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Jamaica lives with his family. In Jamaica, no road could have a finer ending.

When James Bond arrives in Jamaica, he is brought to his hotel, and then the next morning to King’s House for a meeting with The Acting Governor, and then with the Colonial Secretary, Pleydell-Smith.

This view of King's House, captured from a film, was taken in 1962, four years after the publication of Fleming's novel.
This view of King’s House, captured from a film, was taken in 1962, four years after the publication of Fleming’s novel.

At the end of the novel, Bond returns to King’s House for a mission wrap-up meeting, and is eager to leave the residence and get back to the coast.

Queen’s Club, Kingston Jamaica

The opening chapter of Dr. No has a disturbing scene taking place at an exclusive establishment in Kingston Jamaica, not far from King’s House.

On the eastern corner of the top intersection stands No 1 Richmond Road, a substantial two-storey house with broad white-painted verandas running round both floors. From the road a gravel path leads up to the pillared entrance through wide lawns marked out with tennis courts on which this evening, as on all evenings, the sprinklers are at work. This mansion is the social Mecca of Kingston. It is Queen’s Club, which, for fifty years, has boasted the power and frequency of its black-balls.

Such stubborn retreats will not long survive in modern Jamaica. One day Queen’s Club will have its windows smashed and perhaps be burned to the ground, but for the time being it is a useful place to find in a sub-tropical island—well run, well staffed and with the finest cuisine and cellar in the Caribbean.

Scene from a movie filmed four years after Fleming's novel.
Scene from a movie filmed four years after Fleming’s novel.

Inside the club, four prominent men are playing their nightly game of high bridge. One of the men, Commander John Strangways leaves the club at 6:15, as is his routine, to run back to his office for a daily call, after which he normally returns to the club.

This time however, he will will not return.

Just before six-fifteen, the silence of Richmond Road was softly broken. Three blind beggars came round the corner of the intersection and moved slowly down the pavement towards the four cars. They were Chigroes—Chinese Negroes—bulky men, but bowed as they shuffled along, tapping at the kerb with their white sticks. They walked in file. The first man, who wore blue glasses and could presumably see better than the others, walked in front holding a tin cup against the crook of the stick in his left hand. The right hand of the second man rested on his shoulder and the right hand of the third on the shoulder of the second.

From the same film as above.
From the same film as above.

Strangways is shockingly killed, and the events are set in motion which eventually brings James Bond to the island of Jamaica.

The Colonial Secretary, Pleydell-Smith later takes Bond to lunch at Queen’s Club, where he gives Bond some more background on the case and on the people of Jamaica.

Fleming’s Queen’s Club is based on the real life Liguanea Club. which opened in 1910, and is still in business to this day.

As it appears today.
As it appears today.

Interestingly, in The Man With The Golden Gun, Fleming has Mary Goodnight telling Bond about her house in Kingston, and she says:

‘And James, it’s not far from the Liguanea Club and you can go there and play bridge and golf when you get better. There’ll be plenty of people for you to talk to.

Whether Fleming’s change was accidental or due to the change in government (Jamaica became Independent) he removed the Queen’s Club name, I’m not sure, but it is interesting.

 

Bath Essence (and other products) From Floris

On the flight from Los Angeles to New York in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond realizes he is getting serious about Tiffany Case. He even starts making mental plans to move her into his flat in London, (initially at least, into the spare room) and thinks of some preparations that will be needed.

Let’s see – flowers, bath essence from Floris, air the sheets …

If only that was all that was needed to move a woman in.

It is interesting (to me anyway) that James Bond of all people, is thinking of bath essence at a time like this. Now, Floris is a world-famous London manufacturer and retailer of perfumes and fragrances which has been in business since 1730, so I have no doubt that Bond was aware of the company. It appears a couple other times in the Fleming novels as well.

In Dr. No, Bond and Honey Rider’s well-appointed quarters are furnished with, – among other luxuries – Floris Lime bath essence for men.

In Moonraker, we’re told that inside Blades, Floris provides the soaps and lotions in the lavatories and bedrooms.

Bath essence is fragrance which is added to a bath, which leaves the skin soft and slightly perfumed. It is rather expensive £55.00 (or almost $100) for the bottle below, making it another luxury product that Fleming inserted into the narrative.

stephanotis-ba-th

floris

Bond was no doubt familiar with the shop, as it is in the St. James area and close to Blades and other places he frequented. The Floris website tells us:

Fleming enjoyed spending much of his time in the St James area of London where he would do much of his shopping and socialising. Known for his impeccable taste for quality and luxury Ian Fleming was a regular visitor at Floris where he purchased various grooming items including his fragrance of choice, No.89, named after the number of the shop in Jermyn Street.

Fleming even wrote a letter of appreciation to the company.

floris

Super-G Constellation

In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and Tiffany Case are returning to New York from Los Angeles. They say farewell as Felix Leiter drops them off at the airport.

There was the glint of moonlight on the steel hook as Leiter waved a last goodbye and then there was the dust settling on the road and the iron voice of the loudspeakers saying “Trans-World Airlines, Flight 93, now loading at Gate No5 for Chicago and New York. All aboard, please,” and they pushed their way through the glass doors and took the first steps of their long journey half way across the world to London.

The new Super-G Constellation roared over the darkened continent and Bond lay in his comfortable bunk waiting for sleep to carry away his aching body and thinking of Tiffany, asleep in the bunk below, and of where he stood with his assignment.

Trans World Airlines (TWA) under the direction of Howard Hughes, first coined the phrase Super-G for the Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation which began flight in 1954.

The Super-G was, like the Stratocruiser, built for comfort and style – a far cry from the airlines of today.

The flight from Los Angeles to New York went through Chicago, and took “just ten hours,” getting into LaGuardia at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning.

The Constellation featured a few sleeping berths, which Bond and Tiffany got. Since they booked their ticket the same day, it’s a wonder they were able to score the berths.

TWA-sleeper

twa_superg_constellation

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laguardia-1950s

In Dr No Bond travels to Jamaica’s Palisadoes Airport:

The sixty-eight tons deadweight of the Super-Constellation hurtled high above the green and brown chequerboard of Cuba and, with only another hundred miles to go, started its slow declining flight towards Jamaica.

 

Sea Island Cotton Shirts and Shorts

If you’ve read the James Bond books, you know that while Bond dresses rather simply, he is, like in many areas, very specific about what he likes and uses for himself.

One item that James Bond is known for is his preference for Sea Island cotton shirts and shorts.

Most passages read something like this one in Moonraker:

He had shaved, gargled with a sharp mouth-wash, and now, in a battered black and white dogtooth suit, dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt and black silk knitted tie, he was walking softly, but not surreptitiously, along the corridor to the head of the stairs, the, square leather case in his left hand.

Other books where Sea Island cotton is mentioned are Diamonds Are Forever, Dr No, The Man With The Golden Gun (underpants) and From Russia With Love.

Sea Island is not a brand, but rather a specific type of cotton. The Gossypium barbadense produces a longer “staple” of cotton, and also has a more silky feel to it, making it extremely comfortable. Think about taking your Egyptian cotton sheets and making a shirt out of them – that’s what it would be like.

The species is grown on tropical American islands and through the Caribbean, Ian Fleming would’ve certainly been familiar with it, and was obviously a fan of the fabric.

Here is a 1951 Hathaway Shirts ad for a Sea Island shirt. At the time Hathaway was the best-selling shirt on the market, so these certainly could’ve been what James Bond was wearing.

sea-island-shirts-1951

FYI – This was part of an entire series of ads starring the gentleman with the eye patch, and was the inspiration for the “Most Interesting Man in the World” beer commercials.